Above: Rep. Mo Brooks appears on Fox News to discuss his new bill
On the Fox News Channel on Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, argued the merits of a bill he is sponsoring that would terminate any federal employee who refuses to testify before Congress when asked. Lois Lerner, the head of the Internal Revenue Service’s division on tax-exempt organizations, sparked outrage last month when she invoked the Fifth Amendment after being asked to testify before the House Oversight Committee regarding the IRS’s targeting of conservative organizations. Brooks’ legislation seeks to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.
Brooks cited the Supreme Court’s decision in Kalkines v. United States, which set legal precedent that Congress can investigate federal employees, and that any employee’s decision to not participate in a congressional inquiry can result in their termination.
“The language in the legislation is specifically parroting a United States Supreme Court decision, a unanimous decision from the 1960s. We as congressmen have the right to make inquiry of federal employees concerning their specific activities relating to their job. Can’t go beyond that, but if it involves what they have done on the job site, we’re entitled to ask. If they refuse to answer, we’re entitled under the Supreme Court decision to terminate that. I think that’s appropriate.”
Brooks laid out the different circumstances under which a federal employee could be terminated if his bill becomes law.
“There are three different parts to it,” Brooks said. “One is if you give them blanket immunity and they refuse to testify: termination. The second part is, if we do not give them immunity but we limit our questions to their actual job performance, nothing else, just what they’ve done in their duties as a federal government employee, and they refuse to testify or they invoke the fifth, under that Supreme Court opinion, that’s grounds for termination. And the third part is if they don’t tell the truth to the United States Congress — if they intentionally misrepresent the United States Congress and three-fourth of the committee determine they knowingly told a falsehood, that’s termination.”
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